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Thursday, October 29, 1998
Houston, Texas
Volume 64, Issue 48

Halloween Videos

Better Than Ezra

About the Cougar

Cheap Eat$ goes Cubano-style at Latina Cafe

Cheap Eat$

Lisa Chmiola

OK readers, this week I tried new food again for you. At Latina Cafe, I found tasty Cuban food at fairly low prices.

For those of you who haven't eaten Cuban food before, it's quite similar to Mexican food, only not as spicy. But that's fine with me, since I'm kind of a wuss about spices.

I'll admit, the restaurant looked a bit ghetto from the outside. But the inside was decorated quite nicely, with clean tables and silver-colored chairs complete with cushions.

"Did you hear that? It's cheerful in here," Jorg said.

As we waited for Cracky (who went down the street to say hi to a friend), our waitress brought us some iced tea.

"There's just nothing better than good iced tea -- damn!" Jorg said after his first sip.

We decided it would be best to order dishes from the Entremeses (appetizers) part of the menu, in which most plates fell into the $2 to $4 range.

I decided on a large Sopa de Verduras (vegetable soup, $2.25) and a Tamal Cubano (Cuban tamale, $2).

I was disappointed upon the soupis arrival (since I expected an orange-colored soup with a plethora of veggies), but once I tasted it, I was pleased. Nothing like a good bowl of soup to make your day better.

Lisa Chmiola/
The Daily Cougar
The exterior of the Latina Cafe may not be as fetching as its interior, but tasty and affordable Cuban Cuisine is on their menu.

The tamale looked like a Hot Pocket, rather than the round shape Mexican ones take. But I found it to be soft, warm and easy to stomach. I thought it was interesting that it was served with pickles, crackers and slices of ham and cheese on the side.

Katrina ordered a large Potaje de Garbanzos (chickpea soup, $2.25) and a Yuca Rellena (stuffed yuca, $2.50).

Jorg opted for the large Frijoles Negros (black bean soup, $1.75) and Empanada Cubana (with meat, $2), a fried Hot Pocket-like dish.

"My empanada smelled like an underarm, but it didn't taste like it. I was a little traumatized when I took my first bite," Jorg said.

Jorg always has the most interesting way of looking at his food. Needless to say, I didn't sample this one.

But Cracky just had to be difficult and order Pollo Asado (baked chicken, $7) from the Platos Fuertes (main dishes) section. The dish, which came with white rice, black beans and fried plantains (bananas), was big enough to split with a friend.

"My meal wasn't cheap, but it was some damn good chicken," Cracky said.

He was right. The piece I sampled was moist and tasty, and not dried out liked baked chicken can be.

For dessert, we split a piece of Tres Leches cake four ways. The milky dish was to die for.

Total cost: $6.92 average per person. I decided to stop putting our tip into the average, since that depends on how much you eat and how generous you are.

I hope this helps keep the average down from now on.

Latina Cafe

1972 Fairview

(713) 321-2611

Monday to Friday, 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 10;30 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday, closed.

Rating: $$

Send suggestions and comments to Chmiola at

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